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Folly by Marthe Jocelyn
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Ahhh, here's a book set in the 19th century. No Jack the Ripper wannabe ghosts in this here book.

When Mary's mother dies, Mary assumes all the responsibilities of keeping their poor, rural household together and caring for her younger siblings. It is a hard life, but Mary loves her brothers and especially her baby sister. When her father remarries her mean-spirited stepmother sends her away to work at her sister's inn. While at the inn, Mary meets a young, upper class mother who has no idea what to do with her baby. They hire Mary for the journey to London and give her a place in their house as a scullery maid. Mary falls in love with a young boy from the regiment nearby and well, you can guess the rest.

Told from the perspective of four of the main players and slipping in and out of past and present, Jocelyn uses this Dickensian story of a young woman at the mercy of her time to describe aspects of Victorian London (I love Victorian London- it is so delightfully contrapuntal). Descriptions of the upper crust Victorian houses, as well as the fear of the workhouse and an in-depth glimpse into the foundling hospital give this short novel a lot of flavour.

Jocelyn also brings the character of Mary alive by writing her character in a first person, with a dialect I can only guess would be close to what the rural poor would be speaking at the time. Eliza, the bitter, jealous maid is less crafted, if not perhaps more interesting. Her story smells of the sort of Downton Abbey-esque machinations. Oliver, the former foundling turned history teacher is kind if a little benign and the little foundling James rambunctious.

Having said all that, I can't help feeling that the novel fell a little short. The plot is typically Victorian - the tale of a fallen woman who finds redemption. As predictable as the happy ending unbelievable. The links between the characters is guessed at very soon in the book, making the reader wonder less what is going to happen and more how will it all come together.

Still, an enjoyable read and one I would not hesitate to recommend for the grade 7 historical fiction reading circle. ( )
  wiremonkey | Jan 16, 2013 |
Reviewed by Cat for TeensReadToo.com

Mary Finn is only fourteen years old when she's forced out of her home in rural Lincolnshire at the behest of her new stepmother to act as a servant for the woman's sister at her roadside inn. Sixty-seven days later, Mary flees to London as nanny to Lucilla Allyn's infant son, only to discover the position is unavailable upon arrival.

Despite her lack of domestic skills, Mary is able to secure employment as maid in the Allyn household and soon becomes ensconced in her new life. It's not long before she meets the dashing, young Caden Tucker - a British soldier who steals Mary's heart and leaves her in far more dire straights than she ever could have imagined.

Inter cut with Mary's narrative is the story of six-year-old James Nelligan, to whom we're introduced on the day he must leave his foster home and return to the Foundling Hospital. Life as a foundling is brutal, and it will take all of James's resources just to survive, but thanks to his mischievous nature and innate cleverness, he manages to garner a few allies along the way.

I'm reluctant to admit this, but I cried several times while reading FOLLY. Whether it was a scene depicting the grinding misery of Mary's early childhood, the gut-wrenching ache of families ripped apart, or the deplorable conditions and inherent coldness of the Foundling Hospital, Marthe Jocelyn draws an unflinching eye to the harsh realities faced by so many during the Victorian Era.

That's not to say the book is without moments of joy; in fact, the closing sentiment is one of hope, which makes the book, in its entirety, all the more powerful. ( )
  GeniusJen | Apr 10, 2011 |
The book folly by Marthe Jocely perfectly imcorporates romance with the victorian age. Folly is told in a different point of view for each chapter rotating between the three main characters of the book. Mary Finn, Caden Tucker, James Nelligan, and other various characters in the book. The book takes place in 19th century London during the victorian era and revolves around the lives of Mary and James as they try to survive life as poor and orphaned children in London. In the end their stories intertwine to reveal a surprise ending that brings the whole story together. I believe this book was wonderful and it also helped me to learn a lot more about the victorian age. ( )
  ahsreads | Feb 17, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I desperately wanted to like this book, especially after enjoying the author's other book, "Would You?", but I just could not form an attachment to any of the characters. The setting was well described and I liked the pacing, but I just did not find myself caring about the characters and the plot. It took me several tries to finish the book, and if I hadn't gotten it as a early review book i would not have finished it. ( )
  red_dianthus | Jan 11, 2011 |
Stellar historical fiction set in Victorian London with alternating narratives following the lives of an orphan boy in a foundling hospital and a young servant girl. After I got a handle on distinguishing the two main story lines I was equally captivated by both. Although the cover is quite appealing with a certain gritty glamour to it, it's not really representative of the book itself. Folly belongs in the hands of teens who are looking for a more serious, sophisticated YA read. ( )
  jakehlyn | Nov 22, 2010 |
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For my daughters, Hannah and Nell
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I began exceeding ignorant, apart from what a girl can learn through family mayhem, a dead mother, a grim stepmother, and a sorrowful parting from home.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385738463, Hardcover)

Three fates intertwine in this moving and passionate love story set in Victorian London. 


Mary Finn: country girl, maid to a lord in London

Caden Tucker: liar, scoundrel, and heart's delight

James Nelligan: age six, tossed into a herd of boys

When Mary Finn falls into the arms of handsome Caden Tucker, their frolic changes the course of her life. What possesses her? She's been a girl of common sense until now. Mary's tale alternates with that of young James Nelligan, a new boy in an enormous foundling home.


In Folly, Marthe Jocelyn's breathtaking command of language, detail, and character brings Victorian London to life on every page, while the deep emotions that illuminate this fascinating novel about life-changing moments are as current as today's news.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:46:45 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In a parallel narrative set in late nineteenth-century England, teenaged country girl Mary Finn relates the unhappy conclusion to her experiences as a young servant in an aristocratic London household while, years later, young James Nelligan describes how he comes to leave his beloved foster family to live and be educated at London's famous Foundling Hospital.… (more)

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